Wallabies squad announced for opening Bledisloe Test
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Australia's Berrick Barnes (C) attacks the The United States defense (EPA/KIM LUDBROOK)
Robbie Deans has announced his Wallabies squad for the opening 2012 Bledisloe Cup Test match against the All Blacks at Sydney’s Olympic Stadium, with flyhalf Quade Cooper still missing from the side in favour of the NSW Waratahs’ Berrick Barnes.
No comment has been made by Deans, but Cooper’s omission even from the bench is a surprise move for Australia.
Cooper was previously struggling for match fitness, but did play the tail-end of the Super Rugby season for the Queensland Reds.
In changes to the Wallabies side that last played Wales in June, Deans has chosen a starting role in the XV for Dave Dennis, in his fifth Test.
Scott Higginbotham has moved into the number 8 at the back of the scrum, switching from blindside flanker where he played against the Welsh into the injured Wycliff Palu’s position.
The move opens the way for Dennis, starting in his second game against the 2011 Rugby World Cup winning All Blacks.
Anthony Fainga’a has returned to a starting position at inside-centre. Fainga’a, who was used off the bench against Wales, slots in for the injured Pat McCabe.
Drew Mitchell moves into the squad on the bench, and will be hoping to be used as an impact player to push for starting XV selection. Kurtley Beale’s successful return from injury sees him retained at fullback.
This means the same backline that faced Wales will start against New Zealand, with the exception of the forced injury change in Fainga’a.
Veteran forward Radike Samo has returned to the Wallabies side on the bench after last appearing in the Rugby World Cup. Samo’s story continues to surprise after struggling to hold his spot in the Queensland Reds side during the Super Rugby season.
The first Bledisloe Cup match also kicks off the new four-way Rugby Championship series after the Tri-Nations expanded to include the Argentinean Pumas.
The Australian team to play New Zealand in Sydney at 8pm on August 18th:
15. Kurtley Beale (Melbourne Rebels)
14. Adam Ashley-Cooper (NSW Waratahs)
13. Rob Horne (NSW Waratahs)
12. Anthony Fainga’a (Queensland Reds)
11. Digby Ioane (Queensland Reds)
10. Berrick Barnes (NSW Waratahs)
9. Will Genia (Queensland Reds, vice-captain)
8. Scott Higginbotham (Queensland Reds)
7. David Pocock (Western Force, captain)
6. Dave Dennis (NSW Waratahs)
5. Nathan Sharpe (Western Force)
4. Sitaleki Timani (NSW Waratahs)
3. Sekope Kepu (NSW Waratahs)
2. Tatafu Polota Nau (NSW Waratahs)
1. Benn Robinson (NSW Waratahs)
Run on Reserves:
16. Stephen Moore (Brumbies)
17. James Slipper (Queensland Reds)
18. Rob Simmons (Queensland Reds)
19. Radike Samo (Queensland Reds)
20. Michael Hooper (Brumbies)
21. Nick Phipps (Melbourne Rebels)
22. Drew Mitchell (NSW Waratahs)
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